Alstom partners with STILFOLD to make train manufacturing greener

Posted on 12 Sep 2023 by The Manufacturer

Swedish design and technology company, STILFOLD, has announced a new partnership with high-speed train manufacturer Alstom, which will see the companies explore how STILFOLD’s origami-inspired manufacturing technology could be used to make building trains more environmentally sustainable. 

STILFOLD’s patented manufacturing technology, dubbed ‘industrial origami’, involves the use of robotic arms to fold flat sheet metal over curves to form strong and sustainable new structures, using minimal component parts. The technology removes the need for cutting, welding and joining, reducing material waste, energy consumption and production time while increasing structural strength.

STILFOLD is already revolutionising the mobility sector: at daughter company STILRIDE, the team has created a sustainable lightweight electric motorcycle made almost entirely from recycled steel. The team is also working with Polestar to build the world’s first climate-neutral car; and with Kookiejar to produce sustainable ‘vertiports’ for urban drone deliveries.

Now, STILFOLD will work with Alstom, a global leader in sustainable mobility and rail travel, to explore how its innovative steel bending technology could improve how the structures and components in trains are produced to significantly reduce the climate impact of the process.

Over the coming months, STILFOLD and Alstom will jointly review existing manufacturing solutions at Alstom to analyse and identify areas where the greatest impact can be achieved by implementing the STILFOLD technology. STILFOLD will enable Alstom to use fewer raw materials, reduce the weight of different components and improve the strength and durability of their trains’ structures. Rail travel already generates significantly less emissions than travelling by plane or car.

Jonas Nyvang, CEO and co-founder at STILFOLD, commented: “At STILFOLD, our aim is to power sustainable manufacturing practices across every industry. Mobility is a key focus for us, which is why we’re so excited to be moving into the rail sector through this collaboration with Alstom. Rail travel has always been one of the most environmentally-friendly modes of transport, but it could be made even greener by optimising train construction for sustainability. We can’t wait to explore what this could look like in practice with the Alstom team.”

Ganesh Chandramouli, Head of Innovation, Strategy and Portfolio at Alstom Sweden, commented: “STILFOLD is a very interesting and promising technology where we see many potential applications going forward. If we can find solutions that are both more environmentally friendly and cost-effective, it is natural for us to take a closer look at how we can best utilise it, and STILFOLD seems to deliver on many key points.”

Alstom sees innovation as one of the keys to reducing its environmental impact. As part of Alstom’s DNA, innovation creates value and illustrates Alstom’s leading position in the industry. Alstom also encourages open innovation by collaborating with numerous universities, research centres, start-ups, and other stakeholders to strengthen its innovation capabilities, in line with Alstom’s long-term strategy.

As part of its ambition to tap into the vibrant innovation ecosystem in Sweden and Scandinavia, Alstom set up Innovation Station Sweden earlier this year, the third of its kind globally. Alstom is also establishing an Open Test and Technology Centre for e-mobility within its global traction and brakes component development site in Västerås.

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